For the next few days, the FPC NBA staff will preview each NBA playoff series. Next up, Evan Brooks previews the Raptors vs Wizards series.
With the NBA playoffs starting Saturday, the one seed vs the eight seed features two teams that know each other very well. The Raptors and Wizards last played in the playoffs in 2015 where the Wizards beat the Raptors easily, 4-0. This time is a little different as the Raptors have changed their style of play while the Wizards limp into the playoffs. This should be a very interesting matchup.
The Raptors lead the eastern conference this season with a record of 59-23. Led by their All-Star backcourt and the very deep bench, the Raptors established themselves as one of the best teams in the entire NBA. Head coach Dwayne Casey has done a masterful job this season and has put his name squarely in the Coach of the year race. The knock on the Raptors is that they are built for the regular season and not the playoffs. They have a tough task as they face the team who swept them last time they played in 2015.
The Wizards have had an up and down season mainly because of the loss of their All-Star point guard John Wall, Wall missed 27 games after having knee surgery and that severely hampered the Wizards. The Wizards have shown flashes of greatness while also looking like they should be in the G-League as well. The Wizards are also led by their All-star backcourt with Wall and Bradley Beal. The Wizards limped into the playoffs and will have a fresh start to show the eastern conference that they are a team to be reckoned with.
Keys to the Series
The Raptors are such a good team because they have immense depth. They can go ten deep any night and not lose a step. Being able to give your stars a rest will be critical in the playoffs. The Raptors have one of the best-constructed teams in the NBA, and their depth will be key if they want to move on to the next round. Obviously, Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have to play well vs Wall and Beal, but their depth is what makes them such a dangerous team.
Wizards: Kelly Oubre
Kelly Oubre started off the season hot looking like it was going to be a breakout year for him. He was playing so well that fans were even wondering why the team gave Otto Porter a max deal. Since the All-Star break, Oubre has been abysmal. He frequently got beat on defense which is supposed to be his calling card, in addition to missing a lot of shots. At one point he was 2/33 on three-point attempts. Oubre will have to get back to playing solid defense and making the open shot when he has a chance. His energy is contagious, and if he is playing well that gives the Wizards an extra boost.
These two teams know each other like the back of their hands. Out of four games this season, each team won two. The Wizards did not have John Wall for any of those games. The Raptors are known to have breakdowns in the playoffs and look like just another team. The Wizards also struggle with inconsistency in the playoffs. The backcourt matchup will be so fun to watch having four all-stars between the two teams. The Raptors and Wizards are both very different teams this season and it could go either way. I think the Wall takes over in game 7 and shows that he is the best player on the floor. Wizards win in 7.